Very exciting news about Shanghai's Pirates, sounds like it won't be the dumbed down affair we first suspected.
Park News - (5/21/12) Remember that last rumor about the all new version of Pirates of the Caribbean being planned for Shanghai Disneyland? You know… the one where they would use of magnetic LIMs underwater to not only control the speed of the boats, but give them the ability to make the boats move backwards as if pushed by an otherworldly force?
Well, that rumor just took another big step towards reality this week, with the discovery of a new Disney technology patent filed just last year for an “Amusement Park Ride With Underwater-Controlled Boats”. According to the patent, the technology would allow for “a boat ride with precise speed and orientation control.” The technology gets even more interesting than I had imagined, as describes the boats having two independent bogies (front and back) that are “operable to independently propel, with linear motors, the front and rear bogies at the same or differing first and second velocities by applying a magnetic force to reaction plates on the bogies. The track assembly includes a joined section and a divided section, which includes a primary track on which the front bogie travels and a secondary track, spaced apart from the primary track, on which the rear bogie travels. The boat may be rotated to any orientation in the divided track section.”
Translation: Not only can the boats move forward and back, but the back of the boat will be on a second “track”, allowing for the back to speed up faster than the front, thus spinning the boat AROUND. Even better… the patent exposes another interesting use for this technology on the 4th page where it shows the boat turning sideways to rotate around a central “show scene” like the hands on a clock. If this looks familiar, this very same concept was used in a few rides at Epcot, such as the original Journey Into Imagination dark ride (where you were introduced to Dreamfinder) and is still in use today at the summit of Spaceship Earth where all the cars rotate to view the projection on the domed ceiling.
This actually ties into another common and generally assumed fact… that this new version of Pirates will be themed entirely to the film series and not themed around the concepts and scenes from the previous rides. The Chinese culture was not raised over the last few decades to have a general knowledge of what to expect from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean rides, but is aware of the new feature film series. This brings to light another popular rumor claiming that this new version of the ride may heavily favor projection based show scenes rather than rely on animatronics. After all, why spend the money to make a Captain Jack animatronic figure try to lip sync to a soundtrack when you can just film Johnny Depp himself performing as Captain Jack?
While this new concept is not the same as the more action oriented flume ride version envisioned for Hong Kong Disneyland, I’m hearing that they may opt to keep the same iconic finale scene, which would involve an outdoor Splash Mountain style plunge, with the boats exiting out of the mouth of “Skull Rock” and plunging down through the wreckage of a doomed pirate ship impaled upon the rocky shoreline (standing in for the same visual effect as the Briar Patch on Splash Mountain.) Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Now how can we get one of these here in the US somehow?